Sunday, November 24, 2013

Walk on through the wind, walk on through the rain

I feel so tired. Both physically and mentally.

Alright, I've been off work for more than a week because I caught a cold. So it's not too surprising to feel exhausted. But I've been sleeping a lot and did nothing much, but I still feel tired.
And while it's especially bad at the moment, it's been like this for a long time. I've felt like I lack energy for many years now, sometimes more, sometimes less. Some time ago I had myself thoroughly checked through, cardiogram, allergies, and everything. Back then they found that my lung only has about two thirds the usual capacity. But the doctor said as long as I didn't feel a sudden drop it most probably is natural/congenital. I usually don't notice it in everyday life, except in yoga classes during deep-breathing exercises.
I take meds for Hypothyroidism, my iron and vitamin levels should be ok, too. I'm thinking of countermeasures to my slight dust mite allergy next.

Sometimes I really feel desperate. At times I decided that this is just how I am and I should accept it. But life makes it difficult. I get nothing done. Even when I try to take little steps at a time... it doesn't work. I'm procrastinating, yes, but my low energy level play into this, too. During the week, now that I have to commute so much, I don't get anything done. Especially things that take more time or concentration - no chance. And then on the weekends I plan to do at least a little bit more, but I also sleep a lot. On Saturdays I do the shopping and after heaving all the thing to the top floor, I'm exhausted for the rest of the day. On Sundays I do some cleaning up, but just the bare minimum, not as much as I actually need to do. So my flat is a mess right now and it's annoying me and so many things need to be done, but I just can't bring myself to do them.

I also spend a lot of time on the weekend, surfing the internet, watching shows, reading books. In a way I feel guilty about it (when so much housework is left undone), but I also feel like I need it. during the week there is also hardly time for anything but work and commute, just checking the new mails and new messages on Twitter and Pinterest. I don't dare to start reading a good book or watch an hour long episode of something, because I'm afraid it will cost me too much sleep. I'm more of a night owl and getting to bed in time is difficult enough.

But I like to read or watch anime or Asian drama series or something like that. It's fun, it makes me happy. It takes me away from this world. Yes, I like escaping reality.
I'm tired of this world. There doesn't seem to be much good left. The world is going down the drain. All efforts to stop climate change is jeopardized. The U.S. is doing whatever they find in their best interest, no matter whether others suffer or rights are disregarded and they will answer to no court - it's like a new global dictatorship. There is no gender equality and sometimes I think most people don't want it. I feel like it actually got worse after the 80s and 90s. Same goes for homosexuals and everyone else who isn't acting like they are expected to. And I feel helpless about all that. Sometimes I feel like I should do something, get involved; but then I think of how I can't even manage tidy up my home.
Then there's me and my family. I'm working in a field where I never wanted to end up. I earn good money (though I'm not rich), but it's not where I want to work for the rest of my life. I don't like the company I'm working at the moment. Yes, I just changed jobs, and the work is alright and the co-workers are alright, but the company itself is... not likable. I don't like the conditions of work, it's all so old-fashioned. Considering the lack of energy, I'm afraid I have to give up on ever re-doing my Master of Science degree. I tried to change fields of work last time and it didn't work. My older brother still didn't finish studying and he's thinking about giving up and working as a guitar teacher. He's already rather old to start a professional life, but we always hoped that as engineers are really wanted, it would work out anyway. I'm afraid work as a music teacher (untrained) is very unstable and won't make a lot of money. My parents are still living beyond their means, even though my father is now retired and they have less money. My mum isn't completely healthy and suffers from having to work even part-time. I feel like I have to go on and earn well, so I can support them. I can't become a Hikikomori, even if I feel like it. I'm afraid of what would happen if I couldn't go on working like this. For example if my depression came back full force...

I'm really afraid of already being in another phase of depression. I've been clinically depressed before and took meds and because of it, I couldn't finish my Master of Science degree. I can't afford not to function at the moment. So I just have to go on somehow. Even though I really don't feel like going back to work tomorrow, I'll just set the alarm to 6 AM, get up and get through the day somehow.
I'm not suicidal. I couldn't do this to my parents. And there's good music yet to come and so many books left to read and the next Hobbit movies...
Read more on this article...

Monday, November 18, 2013

k-drama review: Sungkyunkwan Scandal

Number of episodes: 20
Genre: historical, novel adaption
Actors:  Park Min-Young, Park Yoo-Chun, Yoo Ah-In, Song Joong-Ki

I might have found it: the third one in my "Top 3 k-dramas" (together with Faith and City Hunter). And for a change, Lee Min Ho doesn't appear in it. It does share the female lead with City Hunter, though, so it kinda all stays in the family.

Sungkyunkwan Scandal (SKKS) combines the "poor girl attends a school for rich people" and "girl has to disguise as a guy" plots and sets it in historical Korea.

Kim Yun-Hee lives with her single mother and her ill brother. To pay off the family debt she secretly works as a script, disguised as a man. When she was about to be sent off as a concubine she takes the risk of sitting through the entrance exam to a civil servant university in place of someone else. However, she's discovered by Lee Seon-Joon and impressed by her talent - and unaware of her being a woman - he makes her sit through the exam to enter herself. This way she ends up in the Sungkyunkwan university, using the name of her brother. Even though she knows of the possibly deadly consequences of being exposed, it's a way for her to keep doing what she loves, to escape being a concubine and to help her family with the allowance and free medicine she gets as a student.

Lee Seon-Joon is a strong believer in rules and dislikes favouritism. Political intrigues are strong in Sungkyunkwan and through her connection with Lee Seon-Joon, son of the Prime Minister, Kim Yun-Hee is a target for others right from the start. She ends up sharing a room with him and Moon Jae-Si, son of the Minister of Justice and belonging to the opposing political group. Moon Jae-Si has a reputation to be delinquent, he stays out gambling and drinking and gets into fights - everyone expects the two of them to start a fight any minute. But no-one expects the Spanish Inquisition the balancing influence Kim Yoon-Sik (the name Kim Yun-Hee takes on as a man), herself without any political affiliation, has on the two of them. Soon the three roomates together with Moon Jae-Sis best childhood friend Ku Yong-Ha become known as "The Jalgeum Quartet" - it's like a historical boygroup, there's one for each taste: the joker, the bad guy, the stoic and the cutie.
The Fab Four

One day Kim Yun-Hee is dared by Ku Yong-Ha (who suspects her being a woman from the start) to take a bath and is seen by Moon Jae-Si - but he keeps this a secret. Maybe because he has his own secret to keep? Lee Seon-Joon finds himself confused by the attraction he feels towards his supposedly male roomate. And then there's the people around them who dislike seeing a cross-political group developing. So their friendship has to go through quite some trials.

I really like the university atmosphere set in a historical context, I like the friendship developing between the students. I also like how Kim Yun-Hee is portrayed as absolutely equal in terms of intelligence and intellectual talent and even - with much dedication and effort - able to compete in more physical subjects like archery and hockey. Actually the other women aren't to be ignored either: Kim's mum chose her love over her family, ending up a single mother, Ha Hyo-Eu probably being a typical woman of her times but rather strong-willed and infamous Gisaeng (a kind of Korean geisha) Cho-Su, who... well, I don't want to spoil too much.
Plus it's simply hilarious at times.
One thing I don't like is how they portray homosexuality. I guess it's partly owned to this being a historical drama, but still it would have been a nice change if one of them would actually have been gay. And of course you rather not think of how Kim Yun-Hee's able to hide her gender and issues of hygiene, monthly periods, etc...
Please don't let them notice, please don't let them notice...

The absolute highlight of this series are Moon Jae-Sin and Ku Yong-Ha- they're like the one true pairing of bromance. Ku Yong-Ha is this mischievous rascal, rich boy, fashionista, someone you'd suspect of being the gay character (personally I suspect he's bi) if he wouldn't be such a womanizer; complete with his own collection of the historical equivalent of porn mags. He has this amazing empathy and always seems to know exactly what's going on.
Moon Jae-Sin, delinquent, bad-ass fighter, read all the books in the library and completely awkward with women (he always gets a hiccup around them). Ku Yong-Ha knows Moon Jae-Sin so well and, with that smirk of his, plays tricks on him. They're so great together, the perfect team! They're outshining everything else in this series so much that some people on the internet demand them having their own TV series.

Moon Jae-Sin's my favourite of them anyway. I first was a bit put back by that attempt of a beard, but he's actually kinda cute (maybe I'm just a sucker for long hair, or it's the lips or the puppy dog eyes or the sweaty, shaggy, bloody - but I'm digressing). And even though he was shocked at finding out about his roomate being a woman, he instantly protects her, taking on a big-brother-like role. They get along so well together and then he remembers she's a girl and starts having hiccups and being awkward - so adorable!
(Side-note: These kind of guys really exist. They look frightening and tough at first, in their rocker outfit, but actually they're absolute sweethearts.)
But well, we all know of k-drama second leads, how they fall in love with the girl and she ends up with the other guy and they watch from the back, wishing well (still breaking my heart every time)... For once I'd prefer him not falling in love with her because I like their friendship too much. Besides the official couple is too cute not to like.

I'm not quite sure about the ending. It's good overall, but there's a bit... I can't really put my finger down on it. Maybe it's because I'm not sure I understand what happened (esp. concerning the future they showed).

Sungkyunkwan Scandal on AsianWiki
review on KDrama Fighting (This review has some background in the historical events - it's also generally good blog.)

PS, fun fact and spoiler: Kim Yun-Hees way to confess was pretty similar to how I confessed to my first boyfriend. Read more on this article...

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Your usual K-drama set-up...

A is a very poor girl. For some reason she becomes indebted to one or more rich guys. Maybe she broke something expensive at one of her many part-time jobs or had to go disguised as a guy and was found out. Guy B is rich, good-looking and incredibly nice and honorable. His best friend C is richer, more good-looking and an asshole. He also has a bitchy mother and a bitchy fiancée he doesn't love.
Guy B falls in love with girl A. But for some inexplicable reason A falls in love with C. Drama ensues. C's fiancée bullies A. C's mother forbids their love. A is depressed and drinks, gets a piggy-back ride home from nice guy B. C is depressed and drives around in his very expensive car and then takes a pensive shower. Read more on this article...

Sunday, September 8, 2013

my first week at the new job

The first week at my new job is over. So far I'm not impressed.

Getting up early and getting to the office works out a little better than expected, I guess. Though the first two or three days were tough. I hope I'll get used to it. It's not easy for me, a night owl chronotype, to get to bed before 11 PM (I have to get up at 6 AM).
The problem is that, while they officially have flexi-time, there's a core time starting at 8:30 AM. It's ridiculous, really. The city is ugly, so no-one wants to live there and there are a lot of commuters. But still everyone has to be there at 8:30 AM - which in my opinion is way too early for core time. I could take a faster train and sleep longer, but I'd not quite arrive at 8:30 AM...

Generally, the company does not seem to have high regards for their employees and it's rather old-fashioned. Additionally to the disadvantage for night owls because of the early core time (which is unhealthy), flexi-time is rounded to 5 minutes - always to the disadvantage of the employee. So for example if you arrive at 8:21 AM and leave at 5:32 PM, it will be recorded as 8:25 and 5:30. I see absolutely no reason for this in modern times (your work time is recorded by chips anyway), except to make money. I guess that there'll be a lot of minutes over all the staff that won't be paid
Break time isn't very flexible either. You must take a 15 minutes breakfast break and 45 minutes lunch break. Your work time will automatically be reduced by at least one hour. If you go out for a break and it takes longer than 45 minutes, it will be that break time plus 15 minutes.
Whatever overtime you worked will be lost at each end of the month. So there's no way to keep a "security" amount of overtime for doctor's appointments, like I always used to. Of course the overtime will be deleted without you getting paid for it...
Oh, and even though everything is recorded in SAP, there's no way for you to take a look at what's stored.

Additionally to all those issues, I have not yet been welcomed by human ressources. I'm used to haveing a talk on the first day and have everything explained to me. The HR person responsible for me has been away on Monday and Tuesday, but has not contected me since. I tried to call and had a co-worker tell him I called - no reaction. I had to send an e-mail and ask for a meeting, then I got an appointment next Tuesday, called "your  issues" (or subjects or questions, I'm not quite sure how to translate). As if it's a special appointment for me and not something that should be a matter of course!
I also didn't have an introduction meeting with my boss. There's no team leader, so my boss is the departement chief. He's only in the office Tuesday to Thursday and in Berlin on the other days. He met me by chance when he came into the room on Tuesday and seemed to have forgotten about it all. We had a short talk, a few minutes, after a meeting I attended. But that's it.
So I'm pretty much left alone at work. I'm glad I already know two of my co-workers, otherwise I'd feel quite lost. They try to explain things to me the best they can.

Overall I don't feel treated very well.

But, to end this on a positive note, the room is quite nice. I've always only been in open plan offices, so it's quite a change. It's a small room with only three other people. It has windows looking out onto a quiet street, with some trees, but there's never any direct sun.

One other strange thing: installed on the computer are Lotus Notes, OpenOffice and MS Office. What do you need three different office suits for?! Read more on this article...

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

You say goodbye and I say hello

So today was my last day at work. Well, at this workplace anyway. I'm a bit sorry about the nice people I've met there, but overall I know it was right to quit. But I don't like saying good-bye, it's so hypocritical with some. People who you didn't get along with are suddenly very sorry to see you go and will totally miss you... blah blah blah.

I got 2,5 weeks off now, which feels a bit strange. I think I never had that much time off in a row. But there's lots to do at home and a one week holiday so I won't get bored.

But I already started worrying about the next job. It's not my dream job to begin with, I just wanted to get away from my old job. I originally wanted to change fields, but I didn't manage to.
Now the problem ist that I just got reminded again - they told me before but maybe I repressed thinking about it - that I have to start at 8:30 AM the latest. Not very modern. Hey, ever heard of chronotypes, larks and owls? The problem is: getting there will take me 1 to 1,5 hours. That means I'd have to get up at 6 AM every morning. I'm a owl, by the way. That'll be a serious problem for my health...

So, I guess I have to move after all. I like this city and my flat, but I guess I'll have to look for a different place. Well, it gets very hot here in summer and I have problems with my landlord, so maybe it's not a bad idea.
On the other hand, I didn't mean to stay at this next job for too long, so is it worth moving? Maybe I can move to a place from where I can easily get to the next bigger city.

I didn't even start my new job and I'm already worrying and thinking about how long I'll have to stay there!
I hope I can brush these thoughts away and enjoy my time off.

But on a positive note, I got a nice good-bye present with a British theme containing shortbread, Tyrrell's crisps, a London underground tea towel, a London skyline lantern, a Beatles T-shirt and Mac & Cheese (ok, that one isn't British, but I love Mac & Cheese). Read more on this article...

Sunday, August 11, 2013

review: Natsume's Book of Friends

by Midorikawa Yuki
Rating: 5/5
manga: 15 so far, 14 released in English
anime: 4 seasons with 13 episodes each (52 episodes all in all)
Mature content: no
Genre: shōjo, supernatural, slice of life

Natsume's Book of Friends (or Natsume Yūjinchō) has grown to be one of my favourite mangas and animes. It's a really precious gem. So gentle, beautiful and bitter-sweet.

Natsume Takashi can see things others can't see: yōkai, some kind of Japanese demons. He's an orphan, having lost his parents rather early. He was living with different family members, but never for very long since his ability to see yōkai got him in trouble and nobody understood. Finally he comes to live with the Fujiwaras. He likes them very much and they try to take good care of him and make him feel like part of the family. But he keeps his distance, he doesn't want to trouble them in any way, especially not with his supernatural business.

The Fujiwaras live in an area where Natsume's grandmother Reiko used to live. She could also see yōkai and she often bullied them into giving her their name - which gives her power over them. She kept the names in her "Book of Friends" and Natsume inherited it. Most yōkai don't care much about gender or the passing of time, so Natsume often gets mistaken for his grandmother Reiko and after moving to the place where she used to live, yōkai seek him out to get their name back - or their hands on the powerful Book of Friends.
Natsume makes a deal with a mighty wolf-like yōkai called Madara, who was sealed away and accidently freed by the boy: the yōkai will be his bodyguard and after Natsume dies he can have the Book. Unless he transforms into his true form, Madara -  called Nyanko Sensei by Natsume - takes on the form of a Maneki Neko and can be seen by normal humans, too (who generally think he's an ugly fat cat).

So much for the setting.
Natsume's Book of Friends is a very episodic manga. Some plots span over several chapters, but mostly it's one story per chapter. Perfect for reading before going to sleep.
The stories often are very bitter-sweet, a frequent theme is loneliness. I don't think I cried that much while reading any other manga (and I usually don't cry very much). But it's hardly ever a purely sad, unhappy ending; there's still something good in most endings, but quite often characters you've come to like will disappear. You've been warned: keep tissues at hand.
Maybe me being alone most of the time is a reason why I like this series so much. I know the warmth and happiness when I can "return home" to visit my parents.

As I said, it's very episodical, but the story follows Nastume as he's trying to make friends and find his place between the two worlds of humans and yōkai. He often gets dragged into the yōkai's affairs and helps them out. He's really not good with people and interaction with humans often turns out rather awkward. He feels uncomfortable about having to lie to people so often. His communication with yōkai ist much more stress-free.
But he still, slowly, manages to make some human friends, some of who can at least sense supernatural beings. He tries very hard not to trouble anyone, especially his friends and foster parents, which doesn't really make things better. Over time though, he learns to loosen up a bit. So, there is quite some character development, and still more to come I guess.

He also gets introduced to the society of human excorcists but - being friendly with yōkai - he distrusts them and they do not know about the Book of Friends. He can talk to yōkai and hear their screams, so exterminating them is not an option for him. Mr. Natori is a young actor and an excorcist, his ways cross with Natsume a few times and they might even be friends, in a way. Matoba, on the other hand, is the cold-hearted young head of a clan of excorcists, a mysterious villain (eye-patch and all).

But one thing I wonder: Reiko is portrayed as someone who hated humans and was alone all of the time. But in order to have a grandson, she must have had sex at least once and become pregnant and give birth to a child (Natsume's mother). I wonder whether we'll ever learn who the father was. Maybe the exorcists had something to do with it? Natsume doesn't seem to wonder about that.

You'd expect there to be a lot of battles, but there aren't that many and they never last long. And even though it's technically being a shōjo series, there's also hardly any romance.

The art is very simply and sometimes hazy but pretty and it's not difficult to understand what's going on. Midorikawa manages to make the yōkai look all very different, there's all kinds, big small, gross and cute (like the kitsune cub) and all of them have their own story.
The anime adopts the gentle atmosphere and the watercolour look of the manga, especially the soundtrack is nice and calm.

Natsume's Book of Friends is not released in German, but luckily I can import the English books via amazon. Now I just wish for a RC2 release of the anime and that I could get my hands on merchandise more easily.

I feel like this review doesn't really do Natsume's Book of Friends much justice, so please just see for yourself.

TV Tropes
Wikipedia Read more on this article...

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Two out of three ain't bad

Last Monday I quit my job.

From September on I'm going to work at yet another mail order company.
It's not particularly my dream job - it's more a kind of compromise. I had wanted to change my field of work, at least a little bit, and get out of eCommerce. But I didn't want to move, so the choice of jobs was limited. I applied at other companies, but I only got invited to one, and that didn't work out (a shame, it would have been a scientific job). It's really hard to make people see that you can do their work when you've never done it before.

Well, so it's ecommerce again. It seems I kind of became an expert in a field I never even wanted to work in...
I'll have to commute, it's gonna cost a lot more time and money. But I thought I might be able to use that time, maybe catch up on reading books or maybe even surf the internet, check my Twitter or Pinterest (unfortunately mobile internet connection is a little expensive in Germany).
I'll earn a little more, but not as much as I had hoped. I'll also have to work a little more, 40 instead of 37,5 hours per week. So probably, considering the higher costs for commuting, I won't earn more. But money wasn't the main motivation.

I just had to get out of my current job.
I can't deal with my bosses and the atmosphere at work anymore. And who knows? Maybe they wanted me gone. When I told my team leader that I was quitting she wasn't surprised. She said she was sorry - but honestly I didn't think it sounded honest.

So even if this isn't what I had hoped for, I hope it will be a change for the better. The only way to change something about my situation was to change my situation. Read more on this article...

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

short k-drama reviews: Boys Before Flowers, Mary Stayed Out All Night, City Hunter, You're Beautiful, Secret Garden

Lately I've been somewhat obsessed with Korean drama shows. I hardly have time for manga and anime! Help?

I have to say there are quite a few things that annoy me though, for example the constant friend-zoning of the nice guy, while the girl for some reason (I don't know why) falls for the mean guy. Apparently I'm supposed to feel pity for the mean main guy because of whatever - but it doesn't work on me.
The female main character... well, it depends. They seem to start off as these strong women, but quite often it turns out different. That may lead to some disappointment.

Boys Before Flowers

I've already seen Hana Yori Dango and I started watching the Korean re-make... well, probably because of Lee Min Ho. I have to say though the one who suprised me was the second male lead Ji Hoo, the nice guy of F4, the one the girl originally has a crush on. He's a lot more charming and good-looking than in the Japanese version, in my opinion.
I stopped watching when she gave up on him and choose the other guy, after about seven episodes. I really got too annoyed at this (even though I knew before).

Watch? No.


Mary Stayed Out All Night (or: Marry Me, Mary)

This one is a little different.
Mae Ri's dad has a lot of debts and when he meets an old friend again (who's now very rich), he wants his daughter to marry his friend's son - as they promised back when they were kids. Everyone involved has their own secret scheme - but Mae Ri doesn't want to marry. She talks a talented indie singer (who she perviously ran over with her car) into posing as her spouse. Then things get complicated. Very complicated.

In this drama the male lead is poor, both of the guys are nice and Mae Ri actually shows some initiative and backbone. It also has nice music and Jang Geun Suk (whose smile is amazing). I really loved his outfits, too.
What drove me mad was how everyone seemed to always do what their parents told them to, no matter how sick and messed-up it was.

Watch? Yes, especially if you like rock music.


City Hunter

I've heard a lot of good things about City Hunter. And also there's Lee Min Ho. So I gave it a try, though I'm usually not into action series.
I very nearly stopped after the first episode. I don't like violence and there was a lot of that (and no Lee Min Ho). But I gave it another chance and that was a good thing.
Of course things are a bit fishy... A young man raised by drug dealers in the Asian jungle goes to the U.S. and within a few years graduates from MIT? Yeah, right...
Anyway, Lee Yoon Sung starts to work for the government - while he's planning a revenge on the people who caused the death of his father, a former soldier. A friend of his father kidnapped him as a baby and brought him up just for this revenge, but Yoon Sung plans to deviate from the plans by not killing people. At the same time he promised a friend to look after a girl called Kim Na Na, who happens to start working for the government as a bodyguard. So he's quite a busy bee. And of course romance ensues where it shouldn't and lifes get entangled and there's lots of secrets about their parents to be unveiled.

It was really suspenseful and not as violent as I expected (though also people don't wondrously stay unharmed). The female lead kicked ass - literally. I really liked that, you seldom get a tough female main character in Asian dramas. Or actually in any movie or series - where is there a scene when the female action hero saves the live of the male action hero and is allowed to fight against guys, not only the cliché evil woman? And also Lee Min Ho looks especially yummy in this one (though I'm not quite sure about some office clothing choices). I liked the issue of loving someone who stands on the opposite side and who you might have to face in a life-or-death situation.
The thing with the cliffhangers got a little too much. You know, sometimes you just want an episode to end normally without any catastrophe. Also they killed off a character I liked, one I didn't expect them to kill off. And of course wearing a mask that covers your mouth will not keep people from recognizing you - but that's the usualy unrealistic stuff you have to deal with in action series.

Watch? Definitely.


You're Beautiful

Again Jang Geun Suk as a singer. This similarity to Mary Stayed Out All Night is what made me watch.
The famous idol group A.N.JELL adds a new  member to their band - but he's in America for an emergency surgery. Good thing he has a twin sister - no-one will notice, right? So the girl, who's set to become a nun, is thrust into every girls dream, working and living with three famous good-looking musicians. Well, there's not many surprises from there on, just the usual for that genre. People all fall in love with her, some discover the secret and keep quiet or have to be kept quiet, and all that.
This drama was pretty much the worst one concerning friend-zoning the amazing guy. Seriously, seeing Kang Shin Woo being shot down yet again really broke my heart. The female lead was a little annoying, being shoved from here to there, mainly doing what others want her to do. But Hwang Tae Kyung wasn't as "evil" as the main male characters the girl falls in love with usually are; so that was somewhat acceptable.

Watch? Maybe.


Secret Garden

I started watching this one because of Philip Lee (the doctor in Faith) - do you see a pattern in my k-drama choices there? *cough* But I'm not too sure that I will continue with this one.
Arrogant rich guy mistakes a stunt woman for an actress but for some reason is fascinated by her and keeps stalking her. She's a big fan of "aging" pop star Oska, who happens to be that guy's cousin. I can hardly repeat any plot here, it's so insignificant. At some point they switch bodies - not sure why, but it makes for some episodes of funny body switch comedy.

I really don't like the main male character. Like not at all. He's an arrogant asshole and a creepy stalker. The female main character is supposed to be a tough stunt woman - but really isn't. She's just getting pushed around, gets a little angry, but doesn't do anything. Big disappointment here, she looked like a cool character in the first episodes.
I kind of like Oska, the aging Hallyu (Korean wave) pop star. He seems to be the best developed character, a wealthy professional, player and a pop star, but insecure about his own abilities. As in Faith Philip Lee is somewhat under-acting, but I do like that calm, strong presence. Plus there's a shower scene.

I'm not sure whether I'll go on watching. The body switch part was amusing, but it's now over and I just know she's going to end up with the asshole guy and it already makes me mad. On the other hand I'd like to see how Oska's story turns out (hoping for some shonen ai there...) and of course some more of Philip Lee.

Watch? Meh.


Read more on this article...

Saturday, April 20, 2013

My first love

I met my first boyfriend when I was about 18 years old. At school there was a carneval party with the theme "Lost in Space" and I was going as a Trill from Star Trek. For a picture I needed a communicator and a friend of mine borrowed one from her friend. As I gave it back to him and said my thanks, I thought he had beautiful eyes.
He knew my friend from the Scouts, but he was also in the school's theatre club, as was another friend of mine. He was nine months younger than me. As we now shared a circle of friends, we got to know each other. I fell in love with him. Apparently for everyone else it was quite obvious that there was something going on, but for me not so much; though of course I hoped.
We became close friends. When watching Interview With The Vampire together he got me to promise to tell him who I'm in love with. I was terribly nervous. I didn't know what to do. But somehow I managed to kiss his cheek and say "You know very well who it is that I'm in love with" (sometimes probably it's best if you just do something without thinking). He said he had hoped I'd say that and we kissed.

He was amazing. He was highly intelligent, one of the most intelligent people I ever met. He joked about inventing a number that will turn every calculation true and will be divisible by zero. He was funny, he made me laugh. He loved to discuss things and wanted to become a lawyer. He loved Star Trek and did role-playing (pen & paper and live-action). He smelled good, I think he used Tabak Culture. He was handsome, he had very blue eyes.
Actually... one blue eye. When he was 13 he had a tumour in one eye and since then had a glass eye (which was blue, too, of course). I think it was something very rare and usually not malignant.

It didn't last that long. I don't know how long exactly, maybe three months. I have forgotten what he said when he broke up with me, but he was charming. I can remember that he put a hand on my shoulder as I cried. He said we could stay friends, but soon later seemed not interested in it anymore. So for a while we had not much contact.
But he still owed me a pizza because of a bet he lost. So sometime later we had dinner together and got along well. Very slowly we became friendly with each other again.

By that time I had finished school and didn't see him so often anymore. He was preparing for his finals. But he had been ill for a while and they couldn't quite figure out what it was. At one point they thought it was hepatitis, something with his liver. I had been trying to call him for a while, but couldn't reach him. Finally one of his parents answered the phone. They told me he was in hospital - and the diagnosis was cancer. At that time I was too dumbfounded to say or ask anything more. Later, through friends, I found out he had cancer in his liver, kidneys and lymphatic system. As I understood it, it was something very rare and there was no best practice treatment.
Of course it sounds like a death sentence. But somehow, hope always remains.
He was treated with thermotherapy and chemotherapy. It was hard trying to reach his family. By a friend I was told that he didn't want visitors, but when I finally got his brother on the phone, he said it was OK, except during thermotherapy when he wasn't feeling well. To this day I'm mad at this girl - I suspected she was in love with him, but saying something like this in such a situation...
So it came that I only saw him once more. I visited him in the hospital and as usual he was joking around with the nurses.

I got the call some time later, from a friend. She told me he had died. I stayed calm; she said she was glad, she had been afraid of telling me. My parents were in the living room, my mum was ironing and my dad was watching TV. I was trying to tell them, but I couldn't say anything. What are you supposed to say? "He's dead" - just like that? I started crying. My mum somehow understood what happened and hugged me. My dad was asking us to tell him what was going on.

He had been Catholic. I heard there were so many altar servers wanting to serve at his funeral that they couldn't let all of them. It was in March. He was 19, he would have had finished school that summer, no doubt with top-notch grades.
The chapel was full of young people.I sat apart from my friends, the girls of my class; I can't really remember why. I remember a friend of his sat beside me, he had been doing live-action roleplaying with him and his girlfriend had known him since they were kids. There were some speeches. When the priest said that probably all the people here were asking themselves these questions: Why? Why him? Why so early? - that's when I started to cry. I remember the guy next to me putting his hand on my shoulder. He left it there throughout the whole service, his crying girlfriend in the other arm. Someone of the family held a speech, too, and a friend. I wondered back then and I still do, how he managed to do this, how he could be so brave to stand up there and talk about one of his best friends who just died. He said if he could see him standing there in a suit and telling everyone what a wonderful person he was, my ex-boyfriend would probably laugh and say "nah, enough, it's ok". He reminded us of all the good times we had together. It was heart-breaking.
There was a memorial at school, too. And his family rented the café we were always going to for one evening and invited all of his friends. Reminiscing, sharing stories. There were a lot of young tough guys that night, being drunk and crying.

Actually it's that time that made me realize that rock guys are the best. It wasn't my friends, the girls from my class, taking care of me at that time. It was the guys, his friends. It was his friend, putting his hand on my shoulder when I cried. Other friends kept looking out for me, telling others to wait when we were walking somewhere and I was falling back.

I forgot a lot about my first love. I forgot how he sounded, I forgot his laugh, I forgot his smell. Sometimes I find myself wondering what he'd be doing today. Would he be a lawyer? Would he have his own family (he loved kids)? I find myself thinking "oh, he would have loved that" about some new movie or something. Sometimes I might miss him a little. I wish I could call him and talk things through with him, and maybe then I'd know what to do.

He's burried in the same grave as his grandparents. It's not far from where my parents live and sometimes when I'm visiting them I go there and put up a candle.
Next to his name there's a sign, a circle with a dot in the middle. I've been told it's a sign the Scouts use, it means "I've fulfilled my task here and went home".

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Sunday, March 31, 2013

drama review: Faith/The Great Doctor

If you're lost you can look and you will find me
Time after Time
If you fall I will catch you, I'll be waiting
Time after Time

I haven't yet reviewed an Asian drama here, but I loved this one so much that I just had to.

I'll right out admit that what made me start watching it, was a teaser picture and me thinking the guy was good looking... I only realized later that I've already watched a drama with him, Personal Taste, which by the way has a really beautiful house playing some part in it. Anyway, the summary sounded interesting, too, so the decision was made.

The plot starts in a former kingdom of Goryeo, about 700 years in the past. The new king returns with his wife, but they are attacked and the queen is fataly wounded. Since the queen is a Mongolian princess of Yuan, to which Goryeo is a tributary state, her death would cause great political problems for the kingdom and the newly appointed king. Coincidentally they're close to a magical gate through which a legendary doctor is supposed to have gone to Heaven 1000 years ago. The king sends the head of his body guards, Choi Young, to go and bring back a doctor to save the queen's life.
Choi Young enters the gate and comes out in today's South-Korea. By chance there's a congress of plastic surgery close by and there he meets Yoo Eun-Soo, a former general surgeon. He kidnaps her back to his time and she indeed manages to save the queen's life. Though Choi Young promised to take her back, the king orders her to stay, thinking that having a "doctor from Heaven" by his side is going to help him secure his claim to the throne.
find the thing that doesn't fit in here

What follows is a fast-paced plot full of power struggles, intrigues, schemes for a coup d'état - and romance of course. The plot is based loosely on actual Korean history, but adds fantastic elements, like some people having a magic powers ("X-Men" as Yoo Eun-soo called them).
In the beginning there's some comedy through the time travel element, but only in the first few episodes, then things get more serious. Of course, especially the men are not used to dealing with a modern day woman. The consequences of time travel aren't really dealt with, though the paradoxes make up some of the plot, the characters never really talk about it in detail. One topic however is the amount of violence in the past - of course as a modern woman, Yoo Eun-Soo has a hard time dealing with that; but she may not be the only one. The surgeon also has to deal with being a doctor under ancient circumstances - which means no pharmacies, no antibiotics, no clean environment, etc.

It's really quite exciting and sometimes I wish there'd been a bit of a break sometimes, everything was going so fast, you'd not have peace at the end of even a single episode. The romance between the two main characters develops nice and slowly. At first they don't get along very well, but Yoo Eun-Soo clings to the warrior because he's the only one she knows and Choi Young has to protect her in order to fulfill his promis to bring her back. They start to trust each other and that develops into more... but they both know that eventually they have to part when Yoo Eun-Soo goes back to her own time.
But before you can relax, enjoy the romance and catch your breath, the next disaster strikes. Up until the very end you can't be sure about how it's going to end - will she get back, will he come with her, will she stay, will they both even survive? You're still wondering about it even within the last 15 minutes.

Besides the beautiful historic setting, great costumes, sword fights and a good-looking main guy, I really liked the characters. Even side characters are well developed. For example the doctor and the warrior aren't the only romantic couple, we also see the king and queen getting closer. You get to know and like the Woodalchi bunch (the king's body guards) and the Suribang gang, even though they're only side characters. I also thought the female warrior guards of the queen were pretty cool, especially the head of the queen's maids, Young's aunt. And the "flute dude", one of the bad guys, was interesting as well.
I especially liked the Royal Doctor, who became a friend of Yoo Eun-Soo, listening to her, helping her out, teaching her. I'd really liked to see more of him, very calm, fascinating character.
talking about what it means to be a doctor
 But one last word of warning: some of these side characters will not make it out alive.

Sometimes I wish those things were easier to get your hands on in Europe. If there was a DVD set with subtitles, RC2, at a reasonable price - I'd get it in an instant. I'd read the book, too.
I really loved this series, it'd deserve more fans worldwide.

Wikipedia article about the TV series
Wikipedia article about Choi Young
DramaWiki Read more on this article...

Thursday, February 14, 2013

No second chance

I'm cold and hungry and exhausted and I just got a refusal e-mail from a job application.
So I feel like shit.

I'm really, really fed up with my current job. It was good at the beginning, but after several reorganisations and especially with new bosses, it's just torture. I dislike my team leader, I feel exploited, our departement leader is absolutely not qualified. My new team mates are an incredibly stupid and confused girl who can do nothing on her own and opportunist who thinks of everything as "funny" but has a bad taste in jokes. My team leader's not qualified for leadership (and doesn't do any), likes to spend a lot of time on making things pretty, but none on testing functionality and is very good at delegating unpleasant duties. I don't fit into this team anymore.
The only thing I see ahead of me for the next year or so is testing the same thing over and over again (for various reasons); stupid, repetetive work. A waste of my qualifications.
Plus I question a few strategic choices of the management - I am not sure this company will last a few years longer.
From these "10 Signs That It's Time To Leave Your Job" at least 7 apply to my situation.
So I really want to leave there. As soon as possible.

But I don't really want to move.
Finding jobs in my field here is difficult.

I applied at fours jobs so far. And got two refusals. They didn't even invite me to an interview.
I really thought I was qualified for that job. I must have done something wrong. Was the covering letter bad? Am I not as qualified as I thought? Did I want too much money (we could have talked about that)?
In job applications there's only one chance and you never get to know what you did wrong, you never get the chance to do it better next time. There is no next time.

It's really wearing me out. I wonder how much longer I can last.

Well, I guess I'll get something to eat now, turn up the heating and watch some anime or read Natsume's Book of Friends or something.
And maybe I'll feel better afterwards and ready for another day at my crappy job. Read more on this article...